Green Home Builder, March/April 2017 Gaining Ground with Greener Affordable Housing by Richard F. Burns, President, CEO & Trustee, NHPF
The NHP Foundation considers energy conservation a key consideration in new home developments By saving money on energy, we can shift funding to other areas like enhancing the security of our residences.
measures to reduce water consumption, like fixing leaks, putting in low-flow toilets and swapping out old showerheads and faucets for newer models that use less water.
Once the changes were finished, we conducted leakage and other tests, and we were off to the races.
According to Fred C. Mitchell, Sr. Vice President, Asset Management, NHPF, who has overseen much of the
When it comes to affordable housing, on-industry folks may not think of energy
Richard F. Burns
environmental initiatives for the organization. “Since starting these improvements two years ago, we’ve upgraded more than 2,000 units, and reduced our water consumption by 108 million gallons. This retrofit program has saved us over $500.000 to date.”
conservation as a key consideration. However, at The NHP Foundation, we devote a great deal of time and effort to green practices when designing, constructing and rehabilitating our properties. We create and maintain the highest quality affordable housing possible, all while lowering our energy and carbon footprint.
But these efforts were just the beginning.
MAKING PROPERTIES MORE ENERGY EFFICIENT Driven by different requirements and research, we’ve continued bringing many of our affordable housing properties up to NHPF’s high standards. To date, we’ve rehabbed—or are currently rehabbing—all but nine of our 43 properties. We’ve updated them with energy-saving HVAC systems, more advanced converter systems, new roofs, windows and more—depending on their needs and design. At the end of the day, we’re left with much more energy-efficient properties. For our Roundtree Residences in Washington, DC—a 91-unit, mid-rise property for seniors, completed in 2013—we installed a solar panel system on the roof that provides electricity to the common areas, and allows us to save energy. Funding for this initiative came through tax credits and other grants. The system also lets us sell energy back to the grid, generating a small, but regular income. Individualized energy programs are also offered at select properties. We’ve implemented operation and maintenance practices, including retraining local on-site staffs, and providing a checklist to help maintenance personnel conduct energy walk- throughs. EDUCATING OUR RESIDENTS Everything we do at NHPF is in the interest of bettering the quality of life for our residents. We regularly incorporate tips into our monthly newsletters to educate residents about energy conservation. Our goal this year is to host regular meetings and functions lo teach residents how to make a difference environmentally, while saving money in the process.
Here’s a look at how we’re able to achieve this feat, as well as some benefits of going green.
A SUSTAINABLE MINDSET These days, environmental consciousness is something ingrained in the minds of many companies—including ours. By saving money on energy, we can shift funding to other areas like enhancing the security of our residences. This includes security camera installation, improved lighting and increased onsite officers for more safety within the community. The NHP Foundation’s incentive to apply these practices comes from our involvement in the Big Reach program at Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF), an organization committed to long-term affordability, sustainability and expansion of housing. The group meets quarterly to discuss energy conservation and other issues that inform how we look at affordable housing going forward. And from these meetings, we became invested in another initiative through the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) called “The Better Buildings Challenge.” In 2013, The NHP Foundation signed onto this challenge, which asks its participants—affordable housing providers, as well as the real estate community in general—to reduce their energy consumption by 20 percent over a 10-year span. We look at the initiative as an excellent opportunity to ensure that our properties are as energy-saving and affordable as possible for our residents. REDUCING WATER CONSUMPTION We kicked off our new efforts with a water retrofit program in 2014 and set our sights on nine properties that had the highest per unit water consumption. From there, we took several
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